25 November 2014

Odds and ends

Yesterday I bought a coat.  It was on sale.  (Of course!)  My lovely sister-in law-is great with sales.  I depend on her for most of that stuff.  (I do not have the time or inclination to shop frequently... it's a nightmare with the kids anyhow!)  D was happy he didn't have to fork over an arm and a leg, and this coat is much warmer than my older, threadbare version.  (Hurray for wool!)  

Our kitchen has been busy this past week.  Oh so busy.  Bread, soup, spinach, fish with garlic, stuffed grape leaves...  But not much time to share, which makes me a little sad.  I love getting ideas and inspiration from others, and I feel it's important to share domestic ideas too!  Quotidian mysteries, indeed!  Right now we have a pot of vegetable soup simmering on the stove.  Just need to whip up a quick loaf to go with.

I have plans for a certain amount of wood burning this month or next.  It's a little last minute, so we'll see if I can squeeze it in somehow.  I love the smell of wood when the burning singes it.  Sweet, smoky and warm.  For me, it's a winter hobby.

I like Stephanie's idea of sharing her Christmas crafting each week.  Brilliant!  I hope to try it out too, but I'm already pretty lousy at getting on her more than once a week, so that might be a bit much.  I'll have to play it by ear.  I just love the idea though!

Our Christmas journey has started already.  More importantly than all the crafting going on, we've started preparing our hearts for the feast!  We've put out our Nativity crèche, which was given to me by a dear, dear friend who passed away a few years ago.  Every time I see them, I remember her smile, her loving heart, her helping hands, and all the blessings she brought into the lives of those around her.  I remember our time together teaching and preparing lessons.  I remember her tutoring.  I remember her gentleness.  I remember that sooner or later, we will all pass through the same portal.  And strangely, it inures me against the rampant commercialism during this time.  

Wishing you a happy Tuesday.  

19 November 2014

Yarn Along

It's that time of year.  Lots of projects being thought up and some started.  Lots of sewing; lots of yarn, a bit of wood and paint.  And pleasant thoughts of recipient to dispel the sense of being overwhelmed. 

Right now I am working on two more yarn hair wigs.  Right now, all you might see is brown.  I see flowers and crowns and lots of colour.  And hopefully they'll be finished on time!  

Also working on lining the finished hats.  With the cold snap we're in (read -20 Celsius) I have been forced to this in a hurry.  I stayed up last night almost until midnight measuring, cutting, sewing and pinning.  I managed to finish one, and the other four are all pinned up and just needing the lining sewed to the hat.  (The polar fleece is so soft and warm!)  

Currently reading From I-ville to You-ville with the kids.  It's such a wonderful book to talk about the virtues or even negative behaviours.  They love little Stubborn and his friend Serenity.  And so do D and I!  

Happy crafting to you!

Joining Ginny and friends for this week's Yarn Along.  

13 November 2014

Behind schedule!

I've been MIA online this past week.  So so much to do around here that it gets absorbing and *poof* time has flown.  This is, more or less, the story of my life.

What has been keeping me busy is schooling prep for the kids.  I've been trying to get some material prepared for reading in french.  We've been using the Montessori method up until now with great results.  Now that M is on his way with English, I've decided to add the French.  This means basically starting from scratch material-wise.  I've decided to use cursive letters to teach the letter sounds in French.  That way there's less confusion between languages?  I don't know.  It's all a little sketchy to me still.  I hope I don't completely confuse the poor boy.  (Wish me luck!)  

Anyhow.  I will be popping in here whenever I can, of course, but I suspect for the next two months that will be sporadic at best.  :(  Lots of Christmas plans too.  The Rapunzel hat I was working on is coming along.  I ran out of yarn for the hair, so I won't be able to thread all the hairs I had hoped.  Instead, I am crocheting a crown.  This is kind of a rough sample.  Not sure I like the crown as is.  Maybe add two more points?  I'll sew some colourful buttons at the end for "jewels".  J has no idea this is for her.  Now I have to do three more for my nieces...  

We are going away for the weekend, which means more bustle than usual.  Packing, cooking, preparing.  Why cooking?  Snacking keeps little kiddies quiet for a lot of the trip.  It also saves time not having to stop so much.  And money.  And we get healthy food.  Win win win.  Of course, you could just chalk it up to insanity.  I'd settle with that too.  

In the kitchen....

:: It looks like something bloody happened here.  But no.  Just beets.  Love 'em.  S and I are usually more than capable of polishing off a tray.  The others are lukewarm.  Fine by me!

:: Spinach pies.  Oh my.  Warm from the oven and they just can't be beat.  I have another big bunch that I'm supposed to make up for the road trip tomorrow.  Fingers crossed!

:: This was the last of our potted parsley for the year.  I am so glad we decided to do this balcony garden.  It was small, but nice.  

:: Chicken stir fry.  I've been trying to find ways to stretch meat meals more.  This is a keeper.  Only three chicken breasts and it fed 5 for two meals.  Mission accomplished!

Happy weekend!  (It's supposed to snow here.  Kids are ecstatic.)

6 November 2014


The kitchen is the heartbeat of our home.  There is always something going on here.  Always a gathering of bodies, foods, projects.  Here is some of the cookery we've been up to during the week...

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:: Chocolate chip muffins.  A kid-suggested project to be sure.  Actually, my girl suggested cookies, and I modified to muffins.  I wish we made blueberry instead of chocolate chip.  Next time.  For the record, we are (apparently) trying to fit in as many sweets as possible before Advent starts on the 15th!  Stay tuned for sugar-high updates...

:: I was trying to add some veggies to our regular mac n' cheese.  Had some kale that needed
eating up, so I tried it.  Not the greatest.  And I think it was due to the fact that I didn't cook the kale long enough before draining and adding to the macaroni.  Live and learn.

:: This epic crème caramel was, my Teta's recipe.  I promised to post it and I've finally come through!  (Hurray!)  I have been playing around with the technical aspects of the recipe and finally got one of the smoothest custards ever.  The trick?  Take it out before it looks finished.  I promise, it actually is.  In fact, I could have taken mine out even earlier than I did since, as you can see, there are little holes forming throughout the custard... we don't want those, obviously. (I left it much longer than 60 minutes.)  This recipe is for a casserole caramel, but it looks much nicer in photos if you do them in ramkins.  Unfortunately you'd have to adjust the cooking time from what I have here, and I haven't tried it out, so I can't really speculate.  (I imagine something closer to 30 minutes would be fitting?)   

:: Cheese pies.  Filled with a mixture of feta and mozzarella.  Perfect for kids on the go.  Haven't made them in a while, but I'm so glad I finally did.  I had some frozen dough that I wanted to use up.  I think next time I'll make these spinach pies.  Yum!  

Have a great weekend!  


2 loaf pans
½ cup sugar
1 cup sugar
½ cup sugar
8 cups milk
8 eggs
1 Tbsp pure vanilla extract

Heat oven to 350 degrees F.  Take ½ cup sugar and melt in pot until it caramelizes into golden or amber liquid – don’t stir and don’t brown too much.  (Lower temperature when mostly liquid, but keep heating until there are no lumps or grains left.)  Pour this liquid sugar equally into the bottom of both pans, swirl to coat evenly and set aside. 

Put milk, vanilla and 1 cup of sugar into a large pot.  Heat until hot, but not boiling, then turn heat off.  Put eggs and ½ cup sugar in a large bowl.  Whisk until well combined.  Add milk bit by bit in a very slow stream to eggs, whisking constantly.  (Don’t add quickly or you’ll cook the eggs.)  Strain mixture through a large sieve, then pour into to the two pans equally. 

Place 2 pans in a long baking pan (with high edges).  Fill the baking pan half-way with hot water from the tap.  Bake in oven until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted into the centers – about 60 minutes, but check often around the 45 minute mark.  The centers will jiggle like jello, but don’t worry they will firm up upon cooling.  The surface should look smooth with a slight golden colour, but no bubbling or curdling around the edges.  (If you overcook the crème caramel it will curdle and have a cottage cheese-like texture.)

Remove from baking pan and let cool to room temperature.  Place in fridge to chill.  (Can be stored in the fridge for a day or two if needed.)  When ready to serve, run a knife around the sides to loosen.  Place a deep serving dish on top of loaf pan, invert quickly and give it a gentle shake to unmold.    What you should have is a light caramel custard surrounded by a pool of golden caramel sauce. 

Joining Heather and friends for This Week In My Kitchen blog hop.  

5 November 2014

Rapunzel yarn along

Plugging away at this new hat. The crocheting part is finished.  Just needing to thread a bazillion lengths of yarn through each row.  Kind of mindless in a pleasant sort of way.  :)  No reading for me this week beyond my daily portion of The Spiritual Life.  I'll stop mentioning it now until I've finished with it.  

Right now two of my kids are sick and the littlest one with a fever.  So sick babies and a sleepy mama are not a recipe for a lengthy blog post.  Godspeed!  

Joining Ginny and friends for this week's Yarn Along.

3 November 2014

Weekend tidbits

I've been trying to capture the beauty of autumn before it fades.  I think I've been failing miserably.  So many colours, so many.  I love the crunching leaves underfoot and the smell of crisp, clean air.  Nature gets a little quieter, more contemplative, as the season passes along - a readying for winter's solitude and muffled silence.   

I received a delightful package in the mail the other day.  A little note, a little gift, a friendly hello. Such a sweet bit of mail love from a sweet lady.  Thanks for making my day, Kim!  All of us here have been dipping into that body butter tin.  (She made it herself!)  

We have been busy spending time together the kids and I.  More than the past few weeks, and most of it school-type work.  I should say school play, but anyhow.  For some reason, my kids are into school "work" right now.  Sounds good to me.  They ask to read, to write, to spell, to do math, whatever.  I think most "subjects" are like games to them.  Like a puzzle to solve.  Even little S feels happy when she does her "work".  (Umm, her work is putting little pegs into a pegboard... but she loves it and takes it very seriously.)  

That's not to say we aren't relaxed.  On the contrary, we seem to be more relaxed when we work together like this.  Or perhaps, because we are relaxed we are able to focus better on our work?  I don't know.  Usually I have to tell the kids it's enough, or redirect them to more creative processes.  (Dinner needs making!  That bathroom needs cleaning!)  Sometimes, they become part of the dinner process.  Sometimes they have their own projects.  It's a beautiful rhythm this life of ours.  

Also, they love to help out when it means a spoon to lick.  The spiced pumpkin butter from the weekend turned out great.  I've enjoyed it on my toast.  I can imagine it in pie or other baked goodies. A little pumpkin, two roasted apples, some lemon juice, ginger, cinnamon and a little nutmeg.  Along with maple syrup and a little sugar to help preserve it.  Delicious fall goodness bottled into a little jar.

Incidentally, I realize some photos have been less than mediocre.  I have to mention here that I think our camera is on the blitz.  I don't know what to do.  I am debating between a Nikon and a Canon.  Both entry-level DSLRs.  If anyone has any tips, I'd be grateful!    

30 October 2014


The kitchen is the heartbeat of our home.  There is always something going on here.  Always a gathering of bodies, foods, projects.  Here are some of the things we've been up to during the week...

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This morning we are making a batch of pumpkin-apple butter, so I am shuttling back and forth between the stove and the computer.  Which of course means I am going to fire away here without much ado.  

:: Roasting our pumpkin.  It was a small one, and I think next time I'll get bigger.  Big enough to make a pie alongside the pumpkin butter.  

:: Can't forget the seeds.  We love nuts and seeds around here.  We washed, salted and roasted these in the oven with a just a smidgen of oil.  You can leave out the oil if you wish.  

:: Turkey pot pie.  It's a challenge to use up leftovers in creative ways, but sometimes things work out awesome.  :)  It looks time consuming, but it's really so simple to throw together.

:: Ginger cake with spiced buttercream.  It's as good as it sounds.  Just a hint of sweetness - nothing like those cloyingly sweet iced cakes.  

:: Roasted chicken for dinner.  And then the carcass became the broth for some chicken soup.  Just the thing with the weather turning.  This chicken feeds us for 3-4 meals.  Two with the chicken itself and two with the soup.  (Maybe one with the just the chicken if D is ravenous.)  I add as many veggies as I can, or have on hand to our soups.  I don't know why.  I just feel that they are better.  Kids will eat almost anything in chicken noodle soup.  

:: We are really big into soups when things get chilly.  This is my (blurry) version of creamy cauliflower soup.  (Oh my but it was delicious!)  Dice an onion, then saute in a large pot until translucent.  Take a head of cauliflower, chop into small bits and pieces, wash, add to onions and saute until slightly browned.  Add chicken or vegetable stock - about 4 cups.  Let boil until cauliflower is tender.  While boiling, melt 1/4 cup butter in a saucepan.  Add 1/3-1/2 cup flour and whisk for 2 minutes.  Add 2 cups of milk and stir constantly until thickened.  Pour into big pot and stir.  Let boil, then turn off heat.  If desired, take about 100g of cheese (any kind you like) and shred it on top.  Stir until cheese has melted.  

:: Romano beans in a tomato sauce.  Kind of like stew, but vegan.  Amazing.  At least, it's a big favourite around here.  Kids love it with rice.  D loves it with salads, radishes, pickles.  

Well, that's it for this week.  Have a lovely weekend.  They're predicting snow this weekend!  :)

Joining Heather and friends for This Week In My Kitchen.